Published on Thu Apr 15 2021

The Struggle with Inequality

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This is an introductory textbook of the history of economics of inequality for undergraduates and genreral readers. It begins with Adam Smith's critique of Rousseau. The first and second chapters focus on Smith and Karl Marx, in the broad classical tradition of economics, where it is believed that there is an inseparable relationship between production and distribution, economic growth and inequality. Chapters 3 and 4 argue that despite the fact that the founders of the neoclassical school had shown an active interest in social issues, namely worker poverty, the issues of production and distribution became discussed separately among neoclassicals. Toward the end of the 20th century, however, there was a renewed awareness within economics of the problem of the relationship between production and distribution. The young Piketty's beginnings as an economist are set against this backdrop. Chapters 5 to 8 explain the circumstances of the restoration of classical concerns within the neoclassical framework. Then, in chapters 9 and 10, I discuss the fact that Thomas Piketty's seminal work is a new development in this "inequality renaissance," and try to gain a perspective on future trends in the debate. Mathematical appendix presents simple models of growth and distribution.